Wednesday, July 4, 2012

No Bath Salts in Toxicology Report of "Miami Zombie"

In a previous Passport to Recovery blog post we discussed the case of Rudy Eugene, otherwise known as the “Miami Zombie,” who chewed the face of Ronald Poppo, a homeless man in Miami. It was announced last week that Marijuana was found in the toxicology report of Eugene but not the widely suspected bath salts. The Miami-Dade County Medical Examiner reported, “The laboratory has tested for but not detected any other street drugs, alcohol or prescription drugs, or any adulterants found in street drugs.”

Although they tested for the chemicals associated with bath salts, such as MDPV and mephedrone, some experts are saying that since the DEA banned the most common synthetic stimulants in bath salts, manufacturers are concocting other chemical compounds to mimic the effects - which may account for Eugene's psychotic behavior. The exact pharmacology of bath salts changes as the compounds are adapted by chemists to stay ahead of the law and a mechanism hasn't been created yet to test for these compounds. Dr. Bruce Goldberger, Professor and Director of Toxicology at the University of Florida noted, “The problem today is that there is an almost an infinite number of chemical substances out there that can trigger unusual behavior,” and “there is no one test or combination of tests that can detect every possible substance out there.”

Despite the fact that only Marijuana was found in the Rudy Eugene’s initial toxicology reports, there are horrifying occurrences related to bath salts unfolding across the US – some well before people knew of the “Miami Zombie.” In July 2011 Robert J. Kish, a 29-year-old was shot dead by Pennsylvania state troopers after taking his mother and two other people hostage in his mother’s home in the Pocono Mountains.  He was shot after he had trapped his mother and two others in the house and set fire to it and fired upon troopers with a shotgun. Kish had reportedly called a Scranton rehab a few days earlier for his addiction to bath salts but they didn't have a bed available at the time.

Last April 19-year-old Daniel Richards 
died by strangulation when a friend restrained him from a violent episode while high on bath salts. According to the Grand Junction, Colorado Police Department Richards had a violent outbreak at a party, threatening people with a large knife which prompted a friend to restrain and accidentally strangulate him.

These stories are unfolding across the nation with variations on the same theme – severe violence associated with the use of bath salts, resulting in tragic deaths. If these stories alone are not enough to scare away potential users, there are great resources available that facilitate the necessary dialogue to have with loved ones, especially young adults, about the dangers associated with bath salts.
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